Veteran rocker Joe Grushecky released his More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows album in April. It’s a 12-track album that many feel is long overdue.
“This is the first full band studio record in nine years,” said Grushecky, who performs at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, July 14. “I did a solo acoustic CD, then a solo record and we did a live record at the Stone Pony. But yeah, the first band studio record in nine years.”
A recent press release referred to Grushecky feeling that there was “much loss and turmoil” and that this may have found its way into the recordings. Grushecky clarified that, this way: “We’ve lost so many people and great musicians over the last couple of years: David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Tom Petty and just one after another, Glen Campbell and these were people that I’ve really admired and listened to over the years. And it just seems that it’s my particular age group’s swan song. Our country is also in great turmoil so it was an unsettling time when I wrote these songs.”
Being an experienced musician usually comes with pressure to fit with what’s trending — something that, much to his credit, he has refused to give into.
“In my case, I’ve been able to stick to my guns all these years. I have a good band and enjoy playing with them and we feel like adopted sons in Asbury Park, which is very complimentary because we are from Pittsburgh and we feel really at home when we go there. I’m primarily a band guy and I’ve gone in and out of fashion numerous times (laughs). I do play solo and I play different songs than I do with my band, so I’ve been fortunate enough or stubborn enough to stick to my guns. I’ve ridden out a few waves, popularity ebbs and flows, but I’m probably the exception to the rule because I haven’t changed that particularly much over the years.”
Along those lines, his approach to writing music goes back to his youth when his tastes and palate were being formed. There is also the longevity factor which he has seemingly learned to manage quite successfully as he continues to produce quality music year after year.
“We’re a very rootsy band,” he said. “I grew up in the ’60s, when everything was cross-pollinated, and I listened to everyone that the guys at the Jersey Shore were listening to, and we were playing a lot of the same cover songs here in Pittsburgh that they were in Jersey during the formative years. When I started doing my own thing and writing, that music just seeped in, it was in my DNA.
“I write what I write and this particular record, I wrote way more songs than I ended up using. And once I hit upon the theme of ‘More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows,’ which I probably just blurted out one day talking to someone and thought it would be a good title for a song … once I hit that particular song it became the theme for this record. You know, you reach a certain age and you can see the end of the road is sort of in sight and you’re operating from the knowledge that your time is finite … it’s going to run out sooner or later, so that sort of was the mindset in writing these songs. But that being said, it’s certainly not a morbid record. We put a lot of fire in these tracks.”
Grushecky has also worked with some of the best known producers and engineers in the industry. Names like Mick Ronson, Ian Hunter and more have attached themselves to his work.
“There was also Steve Cropper, one of the most legendary guitar players of all time; I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the best producers. They listened to my work and I guess they decided that I was worth working with. Bruce Springsteen and I were personal friends before he produced me. He admired my work with the Iron City Houserockers and I, of course, admired his work, and it was sort of a natural fit for Bruce and I because we are peers, the same age … The other guys, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and they considered my music worthwhile enough to work with me so I am very fortunate.”
The July 14 appearance is one of five between then and an Aug. 7 appearance in Bethlehem, Pa., at Musikfest.
“My plans right now are to try and get as many people to hear this record as possible,” said Grushecky. “It’s still brand new and we plan on going out and playing it as much as we can. And then at some point I’ve got a bunch of new songs all ready, so I’m ready to go back and record again, because I really like to record. I’m not much of a tech head so I’ll gladly let someone else sit there and turn the knobs, but for now I’m concentrating on this record and getting it out there.”